YouTube Music, a streaming music platform designed to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, officially has a launch date: May 22nd. Its existence will also shift around YouTube and Google’s overall media strategy, which has thus far been quite the mess. However, it will debut in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea before expanding to the UK and 13 other countries. There's no date yet, but it's "coming soon".
YouTube Music will borrow the Spotify model and offer a free, ad-supported tier as well as a premium version. The paid tier, which will be called YouTube Music Premium, will be available for $9.99 per month. UK pricing has not yet been announced.
One of the selling points for YouTube Music will be the ability to harness the endless amount of information Google knows about you, which it will use to try to create customised listening experiences. Pitchfork reported that the app, with the help of Google Assistant, will make listening recommendations based on the time of day, location, and listening patterns. It will also apparently offer “an audio experience and a video experience,” suggesting perhaps an emphasis on music videos and other visual content.
From here, Google seems to be focused on making its streaming strategy a little less wacky. Google Play Music, the company’s previous music streaming service that is still inexplicably up and running despite teetering on the brink of extinction for years, will slowly be phased out according to USA Today.
Google has been packaging Google Play Music with YouTube Red, the subscription video service for original and premium content from popular YouTube creators, for some time now. The company even started offering a four-month free trial of Google Play Music and YouTube Red last month, which seems inexplicable now that YouTube Music is officially a thing.
Oh, and speaking of YouTube Red: it’s gone now. Well, kind of. It’s being rebranded to YouTube Premium and will cost $11.99 per month instead of $9.99. (If you’re an existing YouTube Red subscriber, your rate will remain $9.99, per Pitchfork.) YouTube Premium will include access to YouTube Music Premium.
Under the new pricing system, there is no longer any way to subscribe just to YouTube’s premium video content—including the apparently pretty popular original show Cobra Kai— without also getting the streaming music service. It’s music only or music plus video.
Here’s a chart to clarify the new services and price points, via Google:
The launch of YouTube Music and rebranding of YouTube Red will hopefully provide some much-needed clarity and cohesion to Google’s streaming strategy. The company has a lot of ground to make up for, as Spotify and Apple Music have a huge head start in music and Netflix has a seemingly unbreakable hold on video, but at least now it’s lagging behind under a unified brand. [Pitchfork, USA Today, Recode]
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